GTAV2 Grand Theft Auto V Review

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
Platform: Xbox 360 & PS3
Genre: Open-World Action
MSRP: $59.99

Welcome to Los Santos

With Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games has pushed open-world gaming to a new era by smashing through the barriers and breaking all the boundaries set forth by previous iterations of the series.

While the formula is recognizable and familiar, the incredible tsunami of new content immerses gamers into an experience unlike any on the market today. At its core, GTA V retains the iconic sentiments and themes set forth by the seminal GTA III, which remains the gold-standard in open-world gaming.

The new chapter emphasizes that anything-can-happen randomness while capitalizing on the open-world freedom in exciting new ways. Players have the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and GTA V offers an unprecedented new level of choice to the series with a multitude of recreational activities, side quests, collectibles and character-specific missions.

Los Santos skyline1 Grand Theft Auto V Review

Michael overlooks the sweeping skyline of Los Santos, filled with tall buildings that scrape the clouds above.

Feel like going jet skiing and catching some waves? Sure. Want to practice your tennis skills? Go right ahead. Need to improve your marksmanship? Check out Ammu Nation’s shooting ranges. Players can also go base jumping with parachutes, soar the skies in helicopters and planes, submerge underwater in a mini-sub, or even go to a strip club for a lapdance (or three).

We can’t forget the locale, as the franchise has always portrayed iconic cityscapes and in-game areas. Los Santos–the game’s virtual playground–truly is a world in itself that adequately mirrors California’s environs, down to the urban cities and beaches to the rural desert towns and rocky highlands.

No GTA game would be complete without incredibly offensive humor; GTA V kicks the shock-value up several notches by including the infamous satire as well as controversial violence. Gunfights and wanton shooting sprees have always been staples of the series, but now we have Trevor Philips–the one-man demolition crew who tortures and leaves rampant destruction in his wake.

GTA V screen capture 22 Grand Theft Auto V Review

Planes, trains and automobiles–GTA V has ‘em all (watercraft too!).

The mechanics have been completely overhauled to reflect every game Rockstar has worked on in the past; Red Dead Redemption’s slo-mo makes an appearance, as does Max Payne‘s weapon wheel. There are a host of new additions like Stealth Mode, a dynamic smartphone interface, character-specific stats, a highly interactive mini-map, and a snap-on cover system for firefights.

The most obvious change in GTA V is the inclusion of not just one but three main characters, an unprecedented move that brings a smattering of strategic advantages.

The introduction of a triumvirate allows Rockstar to build a rich and complex story arc with character-specific missions, expanding the traditional linear structure to three forking paths. Using this formula, Rockstar has mixed and blended an explosive and volatile concoction that once again proves that the studio knows their chemistry.